If you’ve never seen Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) tell his brother that he “could have been a contender”, then your popular culture education is incomplete!
“On the Waterfront” (1954, directed by Elia Kazan with a screenplay by Budd Schulberg) is a classic story of power, corruption, and redemption. Based on a serial newspaper story (and actual events) published in the New York Sun in 1948, it’s the story of a former boxer (Brando) turned dockworker who is torn between loyalty to his brother and the mob versus the girl he loves who wants him to tell the truth about a murder. Karl Malden plays a forceful and charismatic priest who is also after Terry to stand up against murder and corruption. Filmed on location with a grit that only Hoboken, NJ, could provide, this film won four Academy awards (best picture, best director, best actor (Brando), and best supporting actor (Eva Marie Saint)) and earned Brando accolades for his “shatteringly poignant” portrayal.
If you’d like to watch this great film (or watch it again), ask for Greenfield Library DVD GD99.
Want to learn more about Brando, Kazan and Schulberg? Take a look in the Greenfield Library reference section at International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. Great for browsing and revisiting favorite films!